As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape the new normal, there’s one thing that we’re beginning to embrace long-term: working from home. Whether you have a job that allowed a flexible working environment before or you’re learning the ropes for the first time there are challenges that we’ve all grown to understand. Over half of U.S. workers have jobs that are at least partially compatible with working remotely, estimates Global Workplace Analytics – and many companies have been extending their work from home policies going forward.
So whether you’ve mastered your #WFH groove or are still struggling to find that perfect setup, check out our guide on how to create a home office space that maximizes productivity – and allows for peace and quiet.
Home Office Set-up
Desks & Chairs
Working from home full time doesn’t mean working from your couch for 8 hours a day – or your back might not make it through the next day! It’s important to invest in a desk and a supportive chair to help bring the office home and normalize your environment. This article can help you create an ergonomic, comfortable space.
There’s nothing more annoying than having a slow internet connection, freezing on Zoom calls, or seeing that spinning loading wheel! Take some frustration out of your day by investing in a good router will help things go more smoothly.
Think about the technology you use at your office, a recreate it at home. For example, do you have multiple monitors? Do you have access to a printer or a headset? Try to mimic that set up at home to make you as comfortable and productive as possible, especially if this is a long-term situation.
When it comes to working from home, you’ll need to create boundaries for yourself – in both the physical and work/life balance sense. Physically: If your makeshift home office doesn’t have a door (and if your new “coworkers” aren’t the most professionally behaved), you’ll need to create boundaries in other ways. Make sure your desk faces a wall or window so you’re not able to see what’s going on around you in the rest of the room. Consider a master family calendar, where you can block out meeting times with your family so they know when they shouldn’t disturb you. (And if your kiddos aren’t the quietest, keep that mute button handy.) Mimic the feel of a cubicle by using an accordion room divider or buy a desk with a tall hutch to interrupt your line of sight.
In the other sense, you’ll also need to set boundaries around your time. Working from home can be harder to “turn off,” since there’s no physical act of commuting or entering/leaving a building to start and end your day. Keep your start and end times consistent so your boss/coworkers – and your family – get the best of you.
Get comfortable on camera
With the influx in working from home, even previous audio-only calls seem to have turned to video! While tools like Zoom have made it possible to keep up with face-to-face meetings, that doesn’t always mean we’re ready for them – or that our backgrounds are. If your home office doubles as your living room or bedroom, you might want to consider downloading a free Zoom background that can turn your surroundings into anything from a board room to Seinfeld’s living room. And if your team or clients like to jump on a video call with little warning, make sure you’re always dressed and ready for the workday – at least from the waist up!
Start a routine
Think about what you used to do to start your work day: You walked in, put your stuff down, said hi to coworkers, and maybe made a cup of coffee before getting to work. Your morning routine might look a bit different now, but starting and ending your day doing the same thing each day can help your workday have a start and an end – something that’s not always easy to come by while working from home (see the boundaries section above!).
In addition, take care to set up your office to compliment your routine. If you want to add journaling into your day, make sure you leave a notebook and pen at your desk. Or if taking a true lunch break is important to you, block it out on your calendar or set a timer to remind you. Eventually, your routine will become second nature but setting yourself up for success with what you do each day will greatly help.
Consider a change of scenery
While we wouldn’t recommend working from your couch all of the time, sometimes it’s a nice change of pace and can lead to increased productivity if used wisely. If you have a patio or outdoor space, taking your work outside for a little while each week can help you settle back into your workspace after. Similarly, setting up a few different options within your office will allow you to move around throughout the day. So if your space has room for a chair or small couch, that’s a great way to create a peaceful space. Think about how you would work in the office: you walk around, sit in meetings, or work in a coworkers office – recreate that movement into your home office.
Embrace your work style
Chances are that you didn’t get much say in how your office was set up, right? You probably walked in on day one, were assigned a desk, and that’s it. Creating a workspace at home gives you a chance to design an office that works for you. So before you go out and invest in office furniture or decor take the time to think about what would make your office yours.
For example, if you work best in complete silence you might want to consider partially soundproofing the room. If you are dialing into meetings all day, you should think about the orientation of your desk for the best lighting and investing in a comfortable headset with a microphone. Love watching the trees blow in the wind? Put your desk near the window. Remember, this is your space to get creative in!
Working from home presents challenges but it also has a lot of positive side effects. You’ll spend less time commuting and you’re able to control the space you’re in, but you’ll have the occasional interruption from the kids, a barking dog, Amazon deliveries, and more. If your office doesn’t turn into exactly what you were hoping for or if it’s not an office at all but rather a corner of your home, it’s important to be flexible while working from home, especially while we’re all getting used to this new normal.